Today is Bell’s Let’s Talk day bringing awareness to Mental Illness so I thought I would take a moment to talk about my experience first hand dealing with it everyday.
To start let’s get this over with quickly, I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. For those who may now know this is considered an anxiety disorder where you have intrusive thoughts, ideas, compulsions and to find relief you develop rituals to handle them. Sounds kind of strange right but that’s the nature of it.
It can be debilitating at times and has certainly affected my life more as an adult then when I was young. As I child I experienced it in a much more mild form. For me it was making my bed three times before sleeping otherwise something awful would happen. I know that it was silly but I couldn’t help it. If I didn’t do it then I couldn’t rest properly until I made that bed three times.
Now that was not so bad when I think about it now. Soon it would develop into other everyday habits. Checking a lock multiple times. Re-reading paragraphs in books. I used to LOVE reading when I was younger. My friends and I used to play Dungeons and Dragons. In fact we occasionally still do but my experience was eventually muddled as the books I used to love reading were beginning to be unreadable with my rituals of re-reading paragraphs. And for what? I wouldn’t get into an accident, a loved one wouldn’t die and other things highly implausible. I just had to repeat actions over and over.
But I didn’t understand at the time what was happening or how to approach it. I just grew accustomed to it and continued onward. It seemed to soften as time went on and then came adulthood. I still had rituals but they became so engrained into my everyday life it all seemed so normal.
Eventually like all adults we have more responsibilities and as such stress increases. My OCD eventually increased. I had experienced two depressions and during my second depression my OCD went wildly out of control. I didn’t know what to do. In fact I didn’t know what to say. How do you tell people you are having absurd thoughts and that you perform rituals to keep things under control.
Luckily during my worse period I had my wife by my side. Obviously this took a toll on all of us at home. In fact I would say it took a toll with everyone to some degree as I became more reclusive. It finally came to a head when I wanted to end things. I knew I needed help and I had to find it.
I managed to find a therapist who was able to help me understand what OCD was and how I could not only keep it under control but fight it off. But let me make it clear that in my case there is no way that it will ever completely go away. I need to take constant medication to bring it under control and I have a set of tools as I would like to call it in dealing with any obsessions / compulsions when they do come up.
Today I am in a better place. I have had to make a lot of changes to get me on a healthier path. I changed professions for one.
While I don’t make as much money as I used to the pressures are not there anymore that would put me in a place where I could lapse back into a depression or trigger my condition any worse then it is. It has the double edged sword mind you of now making ends meat but were not that bad off and if I look at all the positives, they sure outweigh the negatives.
I also started bringing things I used to love back into my life like reading. I still have problems but I have knocked off a few novels so go progress!
I have also been focusing on improving personal relationships by trying to bring down the walls. After my OCD went overboard I had built up such a defense system of guilt and shame that I blocked people out. As time has gone on and things are better I have been trying as best I can to get back to loving life and enjoying amazing experiences with those around. I’ve made new friends and now taking time to appreciate it all.
My disorder is a daily struggle even under the best conditions but I count myself lucky to have those who are around me. I have learned a lot about who I am through this process and to appreciate all the little things in life but most of all I wanted to let people know today by letting them past my walls that they are not alone.
Millions around the world experience problems even more complicated then my own. Maybe you are one of them but know that you do not stand alone. There is help out there and people you can turn to. Don’t silence your voice. Talk